Lunes, 19 Agosto, 2019

Mourning declared after scores of troops die in Afghan base attack

Afghan security personnel keep watch near the site of an ongoing attack on an army compound in Dihdadi District of Balkh provinc Taliban inflict more than 50 Afghan casualties in base attack US
Manuel Armenta | 23 Abril, 2017, 03:05

Gen. Dawlat Waziri, a spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Defense, said on Saturday that "more than a hundred soldiers were killed and wounded" in the attack, but he declined to discuss precise numbers.

The Taliban in a statement said it had carried out the attack, one of the deadliest on a military site in a country that has seen numerous insurgent attacks.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack in an email sent to media.

A group of Taliban militants had stormed the army's 209-Shaheen Corps in the province at a time when soldiers were either having lunch or saying their Friday prayers in a mosque inside the heavily-guarded compound. The toll is expected to rise, an official said on Saturday.

The ministry did not give a breakdown of the casualties in the attack near Mazar-i-Sharif city on Friday, which lasted several hours and targeted soldiers at a mosque and dining facility.

Afghan relatives looks on as an ambulance carrying the bodies of Afghan National army (ANA) soldiers killed in a Taliban attack arrive in the Dihdadi district of Balkh province on April 22, 2017.

The confusion in the base was compounded by the fact that the attackers wore army uniforms.

The attack Friday was seen as another major blow for President Ashraf Ghani's shaky USA -backed government, which, apart from facing rising violence by militants, is also locked in a growing internal power struggle.

Pakistan has strongly condemned the terrorist attack on a military base in Balkh province of Afghanistan which resulted in the loss of many precious human lives.

In February, Gen. John Nicholson, commander of USA forces in Afghanistan, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that leadership assesses "the current security situation in Afghanistan as a stalemate".

A USA military spokesperson said there were multiple attackers with some using suicide vests.

The attack came just two days after Defence Minister Abdullah Habibi visited the base during a trip to Balkh.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani flew to Mazar-i-Sharif on Saturday to pay a "courtesy visit" to wounded soldiers, his office said, while General John Nicholson, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, praised Afghan commandos for bringing the "atrocity to an end".

In March, an attack on a military hospital in the capital Kabul killed 50 people. The Afghan army did not confirm that.

The toll could change, the defence ministry said in a statement, adding it would provide more information once an investigation was completed.

Two attackers belonging from the banned terror group blew themselves up and seven were killed in the assault near Mazar-i-Sharif city during yesterday.

The Afghan defense forces, largely responsible for waging the war after the withdrawal of most North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops in 2014, have suffered from desertions, corruption and defections to the other side.

A number of German and other foreign soldiers are based there, as part of a NATO-led mission to train Afghan forces, but none were said to have been hurt.